After The War

Benjamin Wallace-Wells imagines a possible end to the war on drugs:

The prohibition on drugs did not begin as neatly as the prohibition on alcohol once did, with a constitutional amendment, and it is unlikely to end neatly, with an act of a legislature or a new international treaty. Nor is the war on drugs likely to end with something that looks exactly like a victory. What is happening instead is more complicated and human: Without really acknowledging it, we are beginning to experiment with a negotiated surrender.

He predicts a complicated readjustment:

America’s prior experience with alcohol prohibition can tell us something about the economics of what might happen in Colorado and Washington. But alcohol was only briefly illegal, and so when prohibition was revoked, the culture and economy of legal consumption could return, almost as if they had always been there. There is no similar memory of the neighborhood marijuana café, no history of the harmless, corporatist transit of cocaine through Central America. In its long tenure behind the line—in the United States and beyond—the drug traffic has acquired its own culture, hierarchy, and distinct habits.